I was not happy with this revelation. Antonio kept this secret from me for four years. I realized his job required him not to tell me everything, but it affected his son. And maybe I could have lent some womanly counsel. But he didn’t give me the chance.
Reading my irate mood, Antonio led me over to the bar. “You’re tense, darling. Why don’t I make you a mojito?”
I plopped into the chair even more tense than I realized. “I want to know every detail, Antonio. I’m mad at you right now.”
Pouring the alcohol, he said, “Don’t be upset, sweetheart. I couldn’t help what happened. And I cannot tell you everything. What happened is classified, but after Alex’s last mission, he came to me in a state I’d never seen before. The man was half crazed.”
“What do you mean, ‘half crazed’? Like out of his mind?”
“Precisely. Naturally, I listened to him. He wanted out. Out of the business and out of Knight’s life for good. Of course, I was shocked. He wouldn’t tell me why, though, as I asked him over and over. I needed a good reason for this. I’d invested a lot in his training, after all.” He stirred the liquid.
Finishing the drink, he slid it to me. I swirled its contents. “So, Alex wanted to leave Knight. But why? It doesn’t make sense. They were so happy.”
“I believe it had to do with mental health issues on Alex’s part. I’d heard from Knight afterwards that Alex’s mother had abused him as a child. And Knight told me Alex was in a state of shock the night before he left. I can attest to his erratic behavior. What was I supposed to do when he came to me, desperate for help?” He shrugged emphatically. “Talk him out of it?”
“Yes, Antonio! That’s exactly what you should have done! You could have easily influenced the situation. I don’t believe that you couldn’t. You wouldn’t for your own reasons. What were they?”
Chuckling to himself, Antonio said, “I never could pull the wool over your eyes, Jianna. Yes. I’ll admit it. I never wanted Alex in Knight’s life. How was he going to inherit the legacy with a man? And this surrogate business. Well, it’s not natural. Not in the least! I figured if Alex left, Knight would get over him and move on. Hopefully to a woman. Knight had never been gay before, and I didn’t believe he was truly homosexual. So, with Alex out of the picture, I’d surmised Knight would go back to dating women. After all, Alex could pass for a woman if he wore makeup.”
I laughed and put my hands on my hips in disbelief. “Alex? Pass as a woman? Now you’re crazy. He’s about the manliest guy I’ve seen. Have you not checked out his body? Sure he has a pretty face, but that’s all.”
“Well, it’s all for naught. Alex wasn’t good enough for Knight anyway. If he wanted to leave Knight, that meant he didn’t truly love him. What kind of future did they have? Once things got tough, and they would in marriage, Alex would flee. So, I don’t feel guilty for what I did. And you shouldn’t blame me for this. It was Alex’s choice to disappear and now Knight is moving on. He is gay, though. I’ve accepted that. But I know he will find the right man. A stable one. It was for the best, darling.”
I glared. I couldn’t believe my husband had a hand in hiding Alex for all these years. And year after year, he watched the son he loved suffer. “Where is Alex? I’m going to rectify the situation. Both of them need each other. It’s time this madness stopped.”
“But what if Alex doesn’t want to see Knight? It has been up to him to contact Knight and he never has.”
“I don’t care. Tell me, Antonio. Now.”
“Darling, you already know where Alex is.”
“Yes. Remember the new up and coming author you just signed. The one who is going to be as famous as Beryl Heffner?”
My mind raced to the six-figure deal we’d just made with an agent out of San Myshuno. My breath caught. “You mean....Alexa Knight is...”
“None other than Alex Day.”
Unfortunately, the night didn’t end after dinner. Ella pleaded with me to go check out this new club called Club Avenger. I’d wanted to see it, too, but not with Liam. But she was too cute to say no to. Now I understood why she had Marco wrapped around her little finger. She had to have loads of charm to get me to spend one more minute with this guy.
As Marco and Ella danced, I told Liam I just wanted to sit down and rest. I’d had a long day at work and besides, I’d half hoped we’d have some better conversation.
But that wasn’t the case.
He talked on and on, never once asking me a question about myself. “So, I sold the guy the motorcycle for five times the amount I paid for it. What an idiot. Any moron could have looked up the value online. I say a fool can have bad luck but the art is in knowing how to exploit his weaknesses.” He had a good chuckle at that poor customer’s expense.
I wanted to counter with some Shakespeare--a fool thinks he’s wise, but a wise man knows he’s a fool. I definitely was a fool listening to this creep.
He stopped talking for a second, and pulled my hand into his. “I’m having a fun time with you, Knight. I hope we can do this again soon.”
His touch sent repulsive shockwaves through me, and I jerked my hand away, leaving his hands empty.
“Listen, Liam. I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m not over my ex and I really feel uncomfortable with dating right now. I thought I could do it, but I can’t.”
Face falling, he tried to reason with me. “But Ella said you broke up with him four years ago. Isn’t it time you moved on?”
I put my hand out. “I know it sounds weird, but my heart is still with him. I’m sure I’ll get over it eventually, but it will take time. This is the first date I’ve had. And it’s really strange for me. I’m going to have to date a lot of different people. But right now, I’m not ready.”
He shook his head and got up. “I get it. Well, give me a call if you change your mind.”
And then without a backward glance, he sulked out of the club. I’d never felt so much relief to see someone leave in all my life.
Loud music at Club Avenger hammered me, giving the pick-me-up I needed. After seeing Alex, I always needed a dose of happy. And I was super glad Devon wasn’t busy with his boyfriend. I needed advise from a gay man.
“What’s my problem, Devon? Why doesn’t Alex like me? I mean, we’ve seen each other almost every day for two years. But he won’t budge. And I know he likes me. I can see it in his eyes.”
“Darling, like I’ve told you a hundred times before, he’s gay. And in Alex’s case, I believe his heart is still with Knight. You say he doesn’t date. Right?”
“Yeah, but it’s not because of Knight! They were done years ago. And whatever! I can feel the electric tension between us. I know he would make a move, but he doesn’t want to get too close. You know? Oh, God, why don’t I just give up already! I’m such a fangirl, it’s infuriating.” I swallowed a huge gulp from my beer, wanting to get drunk and wipe Alex from my mind.
Suddenly, Devon pointed and said, “Well, speak of the devil. Look who’s sitting next to you, darling.”
“Devon, we’re here so you can give me advice, not so you can pick up men. You already have a boyfriend.”
“My lovely darling, you’re not hearing me. Isn’t that Knight Richardson sitting beside you?”
Looking at the guy next to me, my eyes widened. There was Knight hunched over, looking as if he was about to pass out. I poked him. “Hey, Knight.”
But he didn’t answer. I prodded him even harder and spoke louder, “Knight! Hey, honey, are you okay? Want me to call a cab for you?”
Drowsy, he lifted his head. “Huh? Whaaa...is that you, Shhhiandra?”
Oh, God, he was wasted.
“What’s the matter, sweetie? Are you okay? Why don’t we get you out of here? I think you’ve had too much.” I tried to take the beer from his hands but he pulled it back out of my reach.
“I’m fine, Shhhiandra. Jus fine. Don' worry ‘bout me. No one else does. ‘Specially Alex.” Then he burped.
Oh, the poor baby was still hung up on Alex. And after all these years. It was so sad. But Alex wanted nothing to do with him. I’m sure Knight was a major dick to him. Alex wouldn’t tell me what had happened to them, but I did know Alex was super hurt. He was depressed even when we happened upon each other, meeting through Alex’s business, after he and Knight had broken off for two years.
I pulled on Knight’s arm and said, “Come on, hon, it’s time for you to go home. Devon will call a cab.”
He j*erked away from my clasp and said, “Sssorry, Shhhiandra, but you don’ unnerssstand. I don’ like women, okay? I like men. I hate to be mean.”
I patted his arm. It was hard to reason with a drunk. “I know, Knight, you like men. But how about you go home and sleep? You can dream of hundreds of men, okay?”
As if he didn’t hear a word I said, he went on, “I mean, why doesn’t Alex love me anymore? What did I do? He jus lef me by myself all this time. And I can’t see anyone else. He ruined me, Shhhiandra. I’m ruined.” His stomach lurched like he was going to throw up.
I panicked. “Devon, do something!”
Lifting his beer, Devon said, “Here, here, mate, let us not have any of this depressing talk. Let’s drink to new boyfriends! There’s plenty of fish in the sea!”
Knight seemed to like this idea. Rising out of his chair he lifted his can, tottering and waving it in the air. “You’re right. I gotta find someone new.”
Bobbing around, he patted me on the shoulder. “Sssorry, Shhhiandra, but I can’t be with you anymore. You’re too sssmall. I like broad shoulders and a rock hard shhhest. You’re too jjjiggly.”
Devon howled and jabbed me in the side, then said, “Here’s to that, mate!”
They both downed their beers.
I put my hands in my face. “Oh, God.”
But then Knight lost his balance and almost in slow motion, he fell backward. I tried to catch him, but was too late.
“Knight!” I cried.
“Mate!” Devon called out. “Are you okay?”
But it was all over. Knight was passed out on the club tile floor.
Shaking my head, I put down my can. “Come on, Devon, help me get him to my car.”
“Where are you taking him?”
“Well, I can’t very well leave him here and he can’t manage a cab ride. I’ll take him to my place.” He wasn’t going to be happy when he woke up.